SigEp Military History


This Week in SigEp Patriot History
September 9, 2012


On September 5, 1969, the guardsmen of the 116th Engineer Battalion (Combat) were released from active duty, having just returned from their 11-month tour of service in Vietnam. This marked the sixth time in 70 years that the battalion served on active duty. In fact, the 116th was the only guard unit, Army or Air, to serve in theater during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

How many SigEps served with this dedicated group of men? Nobody knows -- not yet, anyway, but the SigEp Patriots Project (SSP) will continue to work to answer this and other questions pertaining to SigEps who serve, and we hope you can help us. Please write to if you are or know of a brother who served with the 116th.

September 5, 1919
- World War I veteran and OH Gamma brother Captain Robert Lester Tavenner of the U.S. Army completed his service in Europe with the American Expeditionary Force on this date.

September 7, 1956
- On this date, Korean War veteran and ace, SigEp Citation recipient, and IN Alpha brother Captain Iven Carl "Kinch" Kincheloe Jr. of the U.S. Air Force piloted the Bell X-2 research rocket plane at more than 2,000 mph to a record altitude of 126,200 feet -- the first flight ever above 100,000 feet. For this, he was nicknamed "America's Number-One Spaceman" and received the Mackay Trophy the following year.

September 6, 2003
- World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veteran and PA Mu brother Brigadier General William Robert Sarber Jr. of the U.S. Army (Retired) died on this date in a nursing home in Yorktown, Virginia.
Born February 21, 1929, in Charleston, West Virginia, Brother Sarber graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in Accounting and began his 31-year military career in 1946. He also received a master's degree in banking and finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Armor School, Transportation School, Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff Colleg,e and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. General Sarber's commands included the 7th Transportation Group in Fort Eustis, Virginia; Kaiserslautern Army Depot Complex for the U.S. Army in Europe; and Eastern Area Military Traffic Management Command in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Respect can be paid to Brother Sarber at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. While William is gone, SPP pledges that his life and patriotic service will always be remembered.

September 6, 2006
- On this date, VT Alpha brother Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Lewis Koehler of the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, and New Jersey and Vermont Army National Guards (retired) died in Shelburne, Vermont, at the age of 74.
Ed was born in Morristown in 1932. He was a graduate of Boonton High School and Norwich University, where he received his bachelor's degree in business administration. In addition to Sigma Phi Epsilon, while at Norwich, Brother Koehler was a member of the hockey and track teams, French Club, Junior Weekend Committee, Outing Club, War Whoop Staff, and Alpha Kappa Psi.
After his commissioning and graduation from Norwich, Ed served in the Army 2nd Armored Division in Germany and Austria. Lieutenant Colonel Koehler completed his Army Reserve career following tours in the New Jersey and Vermont National Guards. His business career began in New Jersey with Standard Oil and continued with Coin Depot Corp. In 1968, he relocated to Vermont and worked with Green Mountain Hardware, and he retired from Brite Technologies in 1997.
SPP canít tell you where to show your respect to Brother Koehler, but we will continue to seek the answer to that question so we can share it with you. While he is gone, SPP pledges that Edís life and patriotic service will always be remembered.

September 6, 2008
- World War II veteran and NY Beta brother Major Oliver John Foster Jr. of the U.S. Army Air Forces died peacefully on this date at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington, Vermont. He died at the age of 86.
During WWII, Brother Foster served as a P-47 Pilot and a captain in the 311th Fighter Squadron of the 58th Fighter Group in the South Pacific theatre. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as having been awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. Upon his return stateside, he received a promotion to Major.
Oliver was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 2, 1921, and attended local schools. Oliver studied architecture at Cornell University and practiced in Sweden before returning to the U.S. to pursue his career in West Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a partner in the firm of Moore and Salsbury, Architects. The balance of his career was spent in private practice in Maine and Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects.
Respect can be paid to Brother Foster at Section E-50, Site A in the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Montpelier, Vermont. While he may be gone, SPP pledges that Oliverís life and patriotic service will always be remembered.

September 8, 2010
- On this date, Vietnam War veteran and ID Alpha brother First Lieutenant James Walter Swan of the U.S. Army died in his cabin in McCall, Idaho, with his family by his side at the age of 66.
Jim was born May 23, 1944 in Caldwell, Idaho. He grew up in Boise and the Idaho mountains, enjoying camping, fishing, skiing, and golfing. He graduated from St. Martin's High School in Olympia, Washington, in 1962. Jim had an extremely competitive spirit, participating in sports like football, ski races, and horse shows. He graduated from Idaho State University with a degree in business administration and marketing. In addition to SigEp, Brother Swan was a member of the ISU ski team.
After graduation, Jim joined the U.S. Army and served as a first lieutenant in Texas and then in Korea on the DMZ. At that time, he was responsible for an orphanage, which he was very passionate about. He strove each day to ensure the best of care for the children. He returned to Boise to work for his father at the Jess W. Swan Insurance Agency. Jim and a partner purchased the Jess W. Swan agency in 1977, and they enjoyed a great and successful partnership and business for many years. Jim served in several capacities, including president of the Idaho Independent Insurance Agents Association, and was also a former Independent Insurance Agent of the Year. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Big "I" Junior Classic Golf Tournament.
Jim had numerous friends and was loyal regardless of the situation. He was a humble man and a champion of the underdog. He truly listened with interest to others and was a compassionate, caring companion. Jim had an iron will. He suffered a number of years with ill health, but never gave up. He was a tough, determined man with a great sense of humor. He entertained family and friends -- despite his illness -- to the end.
Brother Swan was laid to rest with military honors at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise, and respect can be paid to him there in Section 10, Row P, Site 128. While he is gone, SPP pledges that Jimís life and patriotic service will always be remembered.

Fraternally and Very Respectfully,
Brother Ed Jones, NY Eta í96
Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy Reserve
Founder, SigEp Patriots Project